Why do some people suffer from stress and mental illness?  Why do some people fear snakes whilst others keep them as pets? Can violent video games/TV programmes influence anti-social behaviour? How do romantic relationships differ across cultures? These are some of the topics that AS/A Level Psychology addresses.

The Psychology department aims to give its AS/A Level students a broad introduction to the scope and nature of Psychology as a science.  Emphasis is placed on applying knowledge and understanding and thereby developing students’ transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking.  Students will also familiarise themselves with the different approaches in Psychology and be able to explain contemporary topics from a number of different perspectives, stimulating lively debate and discussion.

Teaching within the department aims to be varied and engaging and focused on developing successful examination technique.  Activities in Psychology lessons include debates, role-play, ICT, presentations and experiments.  We consistently strive to make lessons interesting and appealing to a wide range of learning styles.

AS and A Level

To study Psychology, students need a high level of literacy and numeracy, as both essay writing and statistical skills are required.  Students taking this subject need an interest in scientific analysis and evaluation, as well as an interest in human behaviour in general.  Like many other subjects at Advanced Level, students are required to undertake a significant amount of reading and research.  Due to the complexity and diversity of human behaviour, Psychology often poses more questions than it answers.  To succeed at Psychology you need a critical eye and to be able to take on board a number of conflicting perspectives.


AS Level Course Outline

Unit 1:  Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology & Research Methods

Cognitive psychology, including the structure and theories of memory and eyewitness testimony Developmental psychology, including early childhood social development, parental attachment and the effects of day care on children’s social development Research methods – methods and techniques for data collection, the experimental process, analysing and presenting data

Unit 2:  Biological Psychology, Social Psychology & Individual differences

Biological psychology, including stress, factors affecting stress, coping with stress and managing stress Social psychology, focusing on why some people conform and obey, whilst others resist Individual differences, including definitions of abnormality, approaches (psychodynamic, behavioural and cognitive) and therapies for treating abnormal behaviour such as phobias, personality disorders, anxiety and depression


At AS Level, assessment is based on structured compulsory questions, including short answer, stimulus material and extended writing questions.  The specification consists of two 1 hour 30 minute written papers, each constituting 50% of the total AS weighting or 25% of total A Level marks.

A2 Level Course outline

Unit 3:  Topics in Psychology Three topics chosen from:

Biological rhythms and sleep (its nature, function and disorders) Perception (theories, development and face recognition) Relationships (formation and breakdown, reproductive behaviour, social and cultural influences) Theories of aggression Eating behaviour/disorders Gender – social, biological and cognitive differences between the sexes Intelligence and learning – theories, animal intelligence, the evolution of intelligence Cognition and development – the development of thinking processes , moral and social understanding in children

Unit 4:  Psychopathology, Psychology in Action & Research Methods

Understanding psychological disorders through a range of approaches – biological, behaviourism, social learning theory, cognitive, psychodynamic and humanistic approaches Applying psychology to investigate a contemporary issue – the media, addiction, anomalistic psychology Methods in psychology, inferential statistics, issues in research (building on the knowledge and skills developed as part of AS Level


Unit 3:  One 1 hour 30 minute written paper consisting of 3 essay style questions. This constitutes 25% of total A Level mark. Unit 4:  One 2 hour written paper based on two essay questions and one structured question, constituting 25% of the total A Level marks.

For more detailed information on the AQA Psychology specification please visit: